Thursday, October 07, 2004

Polling Update

With the release of the latest AP/Ipsos poll today that has Kerry/Edwards up 50-46 among likely voters, our polling guru has crunched the numbers and found that, averaging the last 10 national polls, the three-way race as it stands now, is as follows:

Kerry 46.9
Bush 47.2
Nader 1.2
Undec. 4.7

But as we know all too well, the national numbers don't really matter. It's the states that determine the ultimate outcome. So how's Kerry doing there?

First off, to recap, there's a total of 538 electoral votes up for grabs, distributed among the states in accordance with their representation in Congress (1 for each Senator, 1 for each Representative) + 3 electoral votes for Washington, DC. Most states have a winner take all system in which the popular vote getter in the state wins all of that state's electoral votes. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, have proportional systems where the popular vote getter gets 2 electoral votes automatically (representing that state's 2 Senators) plus 1 for each congressional district the candidate wins. Confusing things even more this year is an initiative on Colorado's ballot allowing voters to decide whether they should have a proportional system to distribute electoral votes. If it passes, Colorado's 9 EVs will be split between Bush and Kerry according to the proportion of the popular vote each gets. If Colorado votes as current polling suggests it will, Bush would get 5 and Kerry 4.

Just as the national polls are reflecting growing support for Kerry since the debate, state polling is showing a similar trend. In fact, according to Hotline, for the first time in weeks, the electoral college map favors Kerry:

Bush holds significant leads in 22 states for a total of 215 EVs.
Bush holds marginal leads in 5 states for a total of 12 EVs

Kerry holds significant leads in 8 states for a total of 140 EVs
Kerry holds marginal leads in 12 states for a total of 110 EVs

Bush: 227 EVs
Kerry: 250 EVs

This leaves 4 states they deem as toss-ups for a total of 61 EVs:

Florida (27)
Iowa (7)
Michigan (17)
Wisconsin (10)

My guess is that Michigan is more solid blue than the polls they are using suggest. And although Wisconsin has been polling in favor of Bush lately, despite Gore having won it in 2000, a friend of a friend on the ground there has said this:

We'll be blue in two weeks. Nader's tanking. Bush is only doing rallies, yard signs and paid phone calls. We've got an unbelievably large staff in literally every corner of the state.
Also, this calculation gives Ohio to Kerry based on just one poll that has him up by 1. I would be inclined to put that in the tossup category.

But if their calculations are correct, and the 4 tossup states go as they went in 2000, Kerry would be on his way to a 284-254 victory. Guru currently has the final estimate at 276-262 and Fletcher in DC sees it at 272-264.

The Los Angeles Times website has a great interactive electoral college map that tells you how many votes each state has and allows you to flip the states between a Kerry win and a Bush win to see how the various states affect the race.

We'll keep you updated.


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